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Richie Furst sits in his Principal’s office, staring at the floor. As the Principal rants on, Richie knows why he’s here – he’s about to be dismissed from the University for recruiting fellow students to join an online gambling posse. What started as simple Poker games online, soon spun into a web of innocent University students losing hundreds of dollars. After a lecture (pun fully intended) on how thin the ice Richie is treading on is, he returns to his accommodation for some hard night’s work – gambling his tuition finances, in order to pay for his education.
..the hours pass, beer bottles mount, and Richie is down to his final play. Nervously he plays a hand, awaits the result, and then his face drops as the phrase ‘BUSTED OUT’ appears on screen. He’s lost everything.
Quickly discovering that the gambling site is hosted from a remote Columbian island, Richie packs his suitcase and gets the first flight over there to confront the site’s corrupt owner. However, upon his confrontation with Ivan (Ben Affleck), Richie is lured into becoming his protégé and is quickly swept into a dangerous game worse than gambling. And he’s about to be played just like a chip..
I can honestly state that this movie was just awful. Its mind-numbing irrelevance was just tedious, and I couldn’t have felt less sympathetic for any of its characters. In Hollywood, we have those classic ‘always plays him/herself’ don’t we; Bruce Willis – always the same, never dresses up or dumbs down. Hugh Grant – has never exercised a different accent, character or personality in any film he’s starred in. And of course, Justin Timberlake – always seems to play the ‘still in full-time education, yet much cooler than a student’ adult whose bop-de-bop swagger carries him through any movie, and whose super-nasal voice screams ‘I just want to go back to NSync’. And he was the same in this. I’d love to say he outdid himself, delivered perfectly, etc. but I can’t – because he was just ‘Justin’. And thats that.
The director paired Justin and Ben together which actually kind of worked; Ben being the villain who loomed over weedy Justin all the way through added some much-needed dynamic. And then the director threw Gemma Arterton into the mix as sassy vamp Rebecca – the only British accent amongst a cast of hundreds of Americans was nothing short of ‘what the Hell is she doing there?’ – but although her random casting, she managed to swirl some sexiness amongst the punches.
As the movie progresses, Richie desperately tries to formulate a plan to escape the clutches of Ivan – however, his plan is thwarted when he is ambushed in the middle of the street and kidnapped – later, the blindfold is lifted to reveal an undercover FBI agent (played by Anthony Mackie) staring him in the face. Agent Shavers propositions (or rather, forces) Richie to help flush Ivan out into the FBI’s hands. He reluctantly agrees and returns to work for his Mafia-style boss.
I was waiting for something interesting to happen throughout Runner Runner. But quite simply – nothing did. Instead, the dice just kept rolling; with Richie continuing to stroll through social gatherings with a ‘should I, shouldn’t I’ look on his face, and Ivan popping in at random intervals to shout a ‘you work for ME, remember that’ warning at him. The entire movie lacked any form of excitement and missed out sorely on tensity – which without, popped this balloon of a feature and let it shrivel slowly (I’ve had condoms with more air in them)
Yes, you gamblers or other Casino game-players will want to deal a chip or two to see this movie. And the cinema will be a full house, because although lacking dynamics, Runner Runner is overflowing with Casino scenes and gambling references, topped with the ‘lingo most gamblers would understand. I personally have no idea about the premise, which may be the main reason I disliked the movie, but if you do deal a hand at online Poker, BlackJack, etc. you’ll no doubt enjoy it.
Irrelevant to the story maybe, but what baffled me from the beginning was how Richie was ‘Busted Out’ (meaning he’s lost everything – all money), therefore couldn’t eat, live, even lost the financing for his tuition.. yet somehow managed to have a big enough Jackpot to afford flights to Colombia, snazzy suits, the money for transport, hotel, etc. – now I don’t want to nit-pick, but for fuck sake – he can’t afford to fund his degree, yet feels the need to catch the next available flight to a glitzy island in order to contact the owner of a website. Ever heard of Email Richie? Yes, its something you can access on your computer once you shut down 888.com
From start to finish, this movie was nothing short of slack. Its highly irrelevant story and cliché style reflected the director’s attitude whilst filming, I’m sure of it. And I can categorically state (and remember so clearly, due to it not happening so frequently) that the audience LOL’d ONCE the entire time. Twice at a push.. Have you ever sat through a movie, eyes glazed over, letting the entire uninteresting thing wash over you?..
..welcome to Runner Runner.